Summer is the season for barbecues and most units get a work-out over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. But is there too much of a good thing? Even the most die-hard outdoor cooking fan can get tired of the same old foods and set-up, so in the interests of taking your barbecue repertoire from boring to brilliant, we asked Andrea Mead from Heatlie Barbecues to share her tips on how to reinvigorate your barbecuing for the New Year.
Plan that outdoor kitchen – fully functioning outdoor kitchens are a hot exterior design trend that shows no sign of disappearing. Adding an outdoor kitchen to your home will create extra living space and add value to your home, and will take your outdoor entertaining to a whole new level. However, it’s not a job to be taken lightly. Planning is key, and you may require council approval. Consider also layout and position, the sort of look you’re after and what appliances you need. Another important consideration is the type of benchtop you use – Heatlie’s Island Gourmet Elite is designed especially for outdoor kitchens and can be installed directly into any type of benchtop, even wood and MDF.
Mini-makeover – if a full outdoor kitchen isn’t an option, then how about giving your outdoor entertaining area a mini-makeover? Firstly, spruce up your outdoor dining setting by giving it a pressure clean and add some brightly coloured cushions. Reposition your barbecue so it’s close to the entertaining area and handy to a table and fridge, if possible. Buy a few wooden boards and platters for serving food and a new centrepiece for your table. Consider creating a theme for our outdoor entertaining zone to create a sense of occasion.
Give it some love and attention – how many times have you geared up for a barbecue and discovered at the last minute that your unit hasn’t been cleaned after the last time you used it. Get into the habit of cleaning your barbie after use – your unit will stay looking good longer and will transform an onerous task into a quick, five-minute job. Scrape the hotplate immediately after use. If it’s particularly messy lift out the hotplate once cooled and give it a quick blast with a pressure cleaner. Remove and empty the fat container and you’re good to go again.
Rethink your menu – though the traditional Aussie barbie is still a favourite, why not extend your barbecue repertoire to include pizzas, roasts and vegetable dishes? A barbecue with a solid steel hotplate, such as Heatlie’s Island Gourmet Elite, allows you to cook anything that you would normally prepare in a frying pan or work – stir-fires, pancakes, flat-breads and even pizza. Simply roll your dough (either homemade or from your local Italian deli) to fit your pizza tray – I find a thinner base works better on the barbecue. Spread a good layer of tomato sugo on the base and top with prosciutto and bocconcini. Be sure not to overload your pizza with too many ingredients, or the dough may become soggy, and cook for 15 to 30 minutes. Seafood is a natural on the barbecue, with whole and filleted fish, prawns and squid all ideal for cooking on a solid steel hotplate. If you’ve got a roasting hood then why not try cooking a leg of lamb, a chicken (see recipe) or beef roast – you can even use it to cook lasagne or to bake fresh fruit for dessert.
Upgrade to a new model – did your BBQ just make it through Christmas? Were there flames coming out causing a dragon-like effect and charring your veggies to a crisp? If so you might want to consider investing in a new unit. It pays in the long run to choose a good quality, Australian-made unit with steel hotplates, ribbon burner, an optional roasting hood and flame failure safety device. Consider also whether you need LPG or Natural Gas, particularly if the new barbecue is for installation in a new kitchen as Natural Gas connections need to be done at the construction stage.
Keep it healthy – long gone are the days when barbecuing meant dousing your hotplate in oil and charring food beyond recognition. A solid steel hotplate enables you to cook a range of food with a minimal amount of oil. Think roast veggies, haloumi burgers and grilled veggie kebabs. Likewise, using a hotplate – rather than an open grill – means that food isn’t exposed to an open flame, reducing the build-up of harmful carcinogenics on food.
Whole Butterflied spiced chicken
- 1 whole chicken, butterflied
- 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 3 long red chilli, finely diced, 2 being used for garnish
- 1 Tbs smoked paprika
- 1 tsp hot paprika
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 Tbs ground cumin
- 1 Tbs ground coriander
- 1 Tbs ground fennel
- 1tsp dried chilli flakes
- Sea salt flakes
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- To serve: Lime cheeks, coriander leaves and sliced chillies
- In a large mixing bowl add all the spices, chilli, garlic and extra virgin olive oil and mix well. Marinate chicken for a few hours or overnight for a better result. Season with salt and pepper
- Place the chicken on a preheated bbq grill skin side down and cover with the lid and cook for about 8 -10 minutes until golden and charred. Flip the chicken over and continue to cook until the chicken has cooked through, about 5-8 minutes
- Serve with lime cheeks, coriander and chilli